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5 stars This is probably the best solo album he's ever done. Somehow the former Marillion front man has returned to form after a few years of mediocrity in making records, and a fair bit of personal trauma.

Right from the opening of Circle line, with the rhythmic keyboards and drums, you know this album is going to be something special. Something which Fish has struggled to do in his last few albums is maintain a high water mark throughout his albums. There is no filler on here, every song has a purpose and he never sounds repetitive. There is a good mix of songs as well. Square Go and Manchmal are really heavy, the latter being one of those songs that grab you on first hearing and you need to hear again and again. Manchmal(German for sometimes), is most definately the best song on the album.

There are also, quieter more philosphical songs on here too. Zoe 25 and Arc of the Curve purvey they quality of the louder songs and keep the emotion just as much as than the louder numbers. Arc of the curve is an especially beautiful song. Dark star is a rather haunting song which has slighter sinister overtones, at least thats the emotion the music purveys to me.

I still cannot believe that Fish has managed to make an album such as this after so many years. Many Fish fans thought Field of Crows was him returning to his peak. It looks as though he was simply in the middle of an upward curve and this is the trough. This blows it out of the water in quality and emotion and maintains absolute perfection. You do get the impression hes angry on this record but perhaps this helps him make better records.

Album of the Year so far, and I'm not exaggurating. Don't believe me, buy it and be amazed.

Report this review (#138204)
Posted Friday, September 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Despite being a fan of Fish throughout his career I have reserved 5 star ratings for some of the Marillion albums he did- until now! I loved the previous studio album 'Field of Crows' but it seemed at the time it might be Fish's last- his interest seemed to be focussing on acting. The success of the 'Return to Childhood' tour seemed to reinvigorate his passion in music hovere, and early in 2007 he announced the intention to produce '13th Star'- to be concept album.

Interested as always I was a bit surprised to learn that the main co-writer would be long-time bass player Steve Vantsis, who had not previously written - would it be any good?

Early in the process Fish got a show on UK radio station Planet Rock and through the next few months the demos for the new album were played - from very early stages through to unmixed final recordings. It started to become apparent that the new album had a lot to offer, and definitely was going to have some 'heavy' sections.

In the meatime Fish went on an emotional rollercoaster ride. He rekindled his relationship with Heather Findlay and got engaged, only for them to split in May just after the wedding invitations had been sent. The album was bound to reflect the upheaval.

The concept on the album is of a man trapped in routine trying to find his 'navigator' in life- dreaming of a lasting love, believing he's found that person and then the falling apart, before ending with some hope. It comes initially as a 10,000 unit limted edition digipak which features arguably Mark Wilkinson's finest album artwork ever, inspired by the lyric to 'Dark Star' . The album was produced by Calum Malcolm, who has given the album a superb sound quality, something which can not be said of all previous Fish offerings.

The album kicks in with 'Circle Line' , a dark, snappy groove, with plenty of guitars and atmosphere which really sets the scene for the album. Next is 'Square Go' which is based around a single very heavy riff and Fish spitting out a spoken section where he vents real venom in his desire for a 'fair fight' with the world. The song ends with a piano piece which reminds of the end of 'White Russian'. It ushers in 'Miles de Besos' , a piano-based atmospheric ballad written with returning keys man Foss Patterson.

Zoe 25 is next - here the album climbs onto the highest level as a hypnotic blend of acoustic guitar and piano and a warm production take you through a 'daydream'. Lyrically it paints a vivid picture, reminding somehow of 'Chelsea Monday' . 'Warm Wet Circles' or even 'Cinema Show'. 'Arc of the Curve' is an excellent song which could make radio. At this point the traveller thinks he's found his true love and it falls out of the speakers as an anthemic rock ballad with wonderful melody .Of course the dream relationship doesn't last and in 'Manchmal' the doubts creep in with the heaviest thing he's ever done- quite simply an astonishing riff that kicks along at pace as Fish wraps himself around the words with great passion. Halfway through the song suddenly changes into a gentler section, reminiscent to me of 'Waving at Stars' on the 'Raingods' album.

'Openwater' was written with guitarist Frank Usher and is another good heavy song. Again it snaps along and benefits from superb production.

At this stage the album probably needs the 'epic' and 'Dark Star' delivers big time. A slow, gloomy world as Fish reflects on the split suddenly has a ripping chorus which, after the second chorus climbs into a huge soundscape through which an excellent guitar solo hammers home the sound as worlds slowly collide.

Then it's ballad time with 'Where in the World' , heartfelt lyrics and superbly crafted music which progresses through two distinct sections.

Finally we get to the title track. Throughout the album Fish has been singing in a low range which suits his voice more these days, but on this one he goes even lower and is absolutely emotionally naked. In recording this he pieced together the vocal between being overcome by emotion and the tears can be heard in his voice through the first half of the song. Then the song climbs up to classic album closer mode with an uplifting, optimistic section where he resumes his search for the point in his life ..... the '13th Star' honestly brought tears to my eyes on first listen.

So, as a lifelong Fish fan am I being biased? I don't think so. Already there are people posting on forums that this is certainly his best sol album , some are saying his best album ever.Some people who admit they have never been totally convinced by Fish solo are saying they are loving this. I am certainly of the opinion that it's his best solo album and stands up well against the finest of his work with Marillion- I never expected soemthing this good and Steve Vantsis and Fish have made a great collaboration. From a prog point of view If you're looking for a new 'Script' it is not that, if you're looking for a 'Misplaced Childhood' or 'Clutching at Straws' for 2007 then you could do far worse than get hold of one of the limited editions while thy're available.

The album is currently only available from the website or at gigs, going to retail early in 2008.

Report this review (#138378)
Posted Saturday, September 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow, believe it or not, he's back in top form! Fish has succeeded in crafting a mature, hard, progressive and touching album so late in his career. While his last few records were more laid back, this one rocks as hard as his Marillion work, maybe even more. The lyrics are as poetic as ever, and the overall atmosphere of the album is most superb! Recommended!
Report this review (#140662)
Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars The Great Man did a very good album, and I’m quite satisfied with it. I’ve witnessed some songs from it this summer on Loreley’s Night of the Prog fest, and I must admit that they were MUCH better live. So if you have a chance to see Fish playing live, don’t dare to lose it!!! It’s definitely worthy, either if you’re an early MARILLION or Fish-solo fan. Tracks like “Square Go”, “Dark Star”, “13th Star” and that pretty balladesque midpart of the album really stand out (though I love “Cliché” from The Great Man most). Nevertheless I have some problems with it. There’s a lot of pure emotions and melodies in “13th Star”, but if you’re looking for proggy stuff, revolutionary approach or anything MARILLION-related, go search somewhere else (no, this is not a new MARILLION allusion!). This is just another Fish solo album, close to “Sunsets on Empire” in style, but with better melodies, heavier sound and more catchy material as a whole. Recommended, but mostly for The Great Man’s fans. Don’t expect THAT much if you don’t fall in this category.
Report this review (#140788)
Posted Thursday, September 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars No disrespect to the efforts of Fish on this CD but I am going to have to take a more critical direction in this review than the others have posted so far. There's not a lot of variation about this CD nor is there any new innovative ideas, Fish's style has been lacking in creativity since the his mildly successful CD "Sunsets On Empire" its like hes not able to grow or afraid to expand or something since that CD was released. There's two styles of songs to be found on this New CD the slower plodding type with a blues type drum beat or the 4/4 dance type that's got cred but lacks progressively speaking there's not a single song on this CD I would consider as prog its actually verging on alternative more so than prog. As far as Fish's vocals go his voice is still emotive has a certain drastic appeal at times calm his voice is about the only good thing about this CD however he is start to do the old Hogarth "waffle" in places his lyrical phrasing could sharpen up the material basically is sub par compared to "Vigil" or "Sunsets" the engineering sounds very over compressed and manufactured perhaps a tad sterile.

Not very good uninspiring and kinda sad .....

Report this review (#143361)
Posted Wednesday, October 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the best Fish album to date, without a shadow of dubt. The sound is far from the previous work Field of Crows which was a collection of fine pop tunes, while here you can find the most rockiest songs Fish has ever sung. But at the same time there's a prog soul in every song of the concept, even in pop ones (which, after all, are the best pop songs by Fish from a long long time). The concept behing 13th star is about love relationship, the darkness, the rage after a break-up and finally the hope of finding the right way to happiness, the 13th star (a sort of "forgive, and love again, and again..."). It's hard to say what is the best song here, maybe Square Go or Manchmal, the rockest songs, or maybe Dark Star, where rock meets prog, or even the beautiful pop tunes of Miles De Besos, Zoe 25 and 13th Star (a new Sugar Mice after 20 years). Of course it's an album of 2007, if you're still serching for the progressive music of the old time with Marils this is not your cd. It's much more Porcupine Tree of the last 10 years than Marillion. And the cover... it's maybe the best from the genius Mark Wilkinson... Buy it (better in the fantastic packaging of the limited edition form the Fish site), 13th Star can't let you down.
Report this review (#143423)
Posted Wednesday, October 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars The new album by Fish is simply brilliant but not progressive at all. Just mix Peter Gabriel's Up with the energy of Deep Purple, add some beautiful, delicate ballads, very nice and simple lyrics and produce it the best you can and you get 13th star. There's no weak track. Some of them are really beautiful and gentle love songs, other are brilliant and very powerful dynamic songs and there's also Manchmal, wich simply beats you right in the head like a baseball bat. It's so powerful and heavy that I've got shivers everytime I listen to this song. To sum up, 13th star is one of the best albums of 2007 so far, although it has nothing to do with prog. Just(?) a grat rock album. Exxellent addition to any prog music collection.
Report this review (#143605)
Posted Thursday, October 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I gave "Somewhere Else" five stars so it would be unjust and unfair to give other mark for this album. Of course these albums represent different sides of Marillion - present Marillion is technical, subtle, delicate and it fits to the maestro of vocal technique, Mr Steve H, whereas our gentle giant is a more of a lumberjack than a singer, but has greater lungs and greater heart. Mr H shows us emotions but he could not sing with such a passion like Mr Fish sang on the first four Marillion albums. And this album evokes the spirit of passionate, Fish-era Marillion. Do not expect "Misplaced Childhood" of course, but IMHO "Thirteenth star" could compete with "Clutching At Straws" (incidentally, album was promoted at "Clutching At Stars" tour, celebrating 20th anniversary of 1987 Marillion album). The album was conceived as a suite and this aim was achieved - that is very much in nowadays prog. Add very nice tunes (Listen, for instance to the opening part of "Zoe 25"), interesting guitar playing and skillful accentuation of important moment, important words - all these things were present in old Marillion. Lyrics are a bit overlonged, but this is what we liked in old Fish records - obvious texts about screwed up relationships. The highlight of the album is "Manchmal" - Fish comes back to old tradition of using foreign words to enrich the text and singing in Hammill's way. On the other hand he could do with little less dance loops and with proper keyboardist instead. Very good album. I bought the CD on a gig, but these songs do not sound good live, IMO. Played in "rocky" way and all the subtlety was lost.
Report this review (#148067)
Posted Monday, October 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars A surprisingly good album from someone I thought would never release something really worth it again. Fish bares his heart and soul in this concept album about a man in a failed relantionship (very autobiographical, I should say). Musicly speaking it´s his best produced album and the musicians shine on every track. His partnership wiht bassist Steve Vantsis gave new life to his music. Many different moods and styles according to the feelings he express in each occasion. Very good! the superb production brings out many subtleties that maybe were present on earlier works, but we unable to grasp. Now finally he´s got the perfect sound for his songwriting.

Not since sunsets On Empire I´ve heard him so inspired and alive. Everything works on this album. As for some reviewers debating if this is a ´true´prog album or not is pointless. This is music, by a great name in prog. Ok, this no symphonic album, with no melltrons or 10 minutes solos, but the music is still progressive (in the broader sense of the word). And, besides, who cares? It is good, damn good music. Label as you like it. But just listen. I had lost any hope with Fish. I´m glad I was wrong.

Welcome back, my friend, to the show that never ends...

Report this review (#148157)
Posted Tuesday, October 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's about time Marillion to invite Fish back!

Yeaaaahhh!!! This is it man! Finally, Fish has made another excellent album, better than "Sunsets on Empire". My apology for Marillion die hard fans who love Hogarth in the band, as I do. But, look, I don't think "Somewhere Else" is something that you can compare with this "13th Star", honestly. I am not trying to demean Marillion's "Somewhere Else" which to me sounds like going nowhere. But, the reality is that the latest album by Marillion is quite weak in soul as well as energy. And now, Fish is rising with his solo album. It seems awkward to say that Marillion (the four members) will invite Fish back to the band, but what I mean to say is that Marillion has to learn a lot from Fish solo albums (despite his ups and downs). I know that Marillion tried to go away from neo prog band wagon but they moved into the direction of Radiohead and the like. Nothing wrong, but they did not invent something new by doing so. It's better they stay in neo prog like IQ, Pallas, etc. In fact, Marillion was the inventor of neo progressive music - so why not staying still with neo progressive? Well, actually the style of music between Marillion Hogarth and Fish solo are different and can not be compared. But you can see from the ratings I have given to these two albums.

Fish with his troubled life has produced something really excellent, musically. It also the case with "Misplaced Childhood" which I think represented the peak of Marillion work under Fish era. This time Fish tried his first collaboration between himself and his 10-year long bass player Steve Vantsis. Unlike Mickey Simmonds and Steve Wilson who had been well known when the collaboration were made, Vantsis I can consider as new comer in composing a music. But through this album I can see his excellent skills in songwriting - of course with Fish as well. Also in this album I can see the return of veterans Frank Usher on guitar and Foss Patterson on keyboards.

The first time I spun this album I did not have any high expectation as I had not followed up with latest developments of Fish musical journey because "Fellini Days" was a great failure, I think. But when I heard the opening track "Circle Line" (6:04) for the first time, I was really surprised with the way Fish created the first impression of combining keyboard solo, loop sampling with great ambient that create great grooves. The groove reminds me to local music popular in my country called "dangdut". Because the ambient is so cool, it creates an excellent listening experience, especially when Fish starts to sing. His voice is quite heavy and powerful it blends beautifully with the music. I think the music flow is easy to digest for many ears with different background and music tastes. It's truly a cool opening. The guitar work in rhythm as well as solo is great, especially when it's combined with keyboard solo. The guitar solo at the end of the track with howling sound is really great.

"Square Go" (5:31) is an energetic song with emotional singing style by Fish, continued seamlessly from previous opening track in tight basslines with another great grooves. The guitar rhythm section is great. Fish enters his powerful low register notes voice followed by wonderful guitar work. Wow man! This is really catchy and great. When he yells "Square Go" he uses high register notes backed with symphonic keyboard work at background. I bet you would love this track because the groove is so wonderful. The guitar solo that follows in the middle of the track while Fish is still singing "Square Go" is really killing! Yes, the beat is disco, but the guitar solo is rockin' and the keyboard work is symphonic. So you can imagine how divers in term of styles this track offers!

"Milos De Besos" (4:22) offers a mellow style music with beautiful piano work that accompanies Fish low register notes voice line in his great accentuated singing style. The music flows naturally with piano as main instruments backed beautifully with guitar fills. The acoustic guitar provides a very nice play right after the first verse. For some reason, I remember the story of "Santiago" in "The Alchemist" book by Paulo Coelho. This is a very nice mellow track that is very easy to digest.

"Zoe 25" (5:19) starts mellow with energetic singing style. It's a ballad track that reminds me to "Tara" of "Sunsets on Empire" album - at least the two has similarities in style. "Arc Of The Curve" (4:29) starts beautifully with a combined work of piano and guitar to accompany another heavy and powerful low register notes voice line sung by Fish. The key attraction of this track is the music that flows naturally in ballad style and its piano and guitar solo. "Manchmal" (5:42) successfully combines music loops, great vocal line, dynamic drumming and stunning guitar solo. The song moves naturally in upbeat style augmented by guitar riffs. The guitar solo is really stunning especially combined with drumming in unique tom sounds. The music turns nicely in loop sampling mood in the middle of the track. Having heard this I thought that this must be an intervention by Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree. It's really nice music loops.

"Openwater" (5:07) starts with guitar work followed by unique low register voices by Fish followed with drumming loops and tight bass lines which remind me to the music of Peter Gabriel solo albums. "Dark Star" (6:48) starts nicely with mellow style at the intro with tight bass lines and long sustain keyboard sounds accompanying accentuated singing line. At approx minute 2:00 the music moves in high tone with Fish high notes. It's cool during this segment. "Where In The World?" (6:05) is another wonderful nice song in mellow style and it sounds like a requiem. It's so nice. The background with drum loops sequencer reminds me to the music of Peter Gabriel. The album title track "13th Star" (5:41) is another stream of music starts mellow to medium tempo in the middle of the track. The melody is nice as previous tracks. The nuance is suitable as a closing track.

Overall, this is an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Having listened to this album in its entirety, I have a tendency to respin this album over and over because this album has a strong point to be enjoyed in its entirety. Although this seems like not a concept album, enjoying this album from first track to the end is like experiencing a life journey even though there are no such steep ups or downs. I admire Fish songwriting skills in which he has been quite successful in creating compositions which do not fit only to prog fans but I believe this album suits those who love music in generic terms. Highly recommended and it's 4.5 stars! Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#159046)
Posted Saturday, January 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars I was never too much keen on Marillion (any era) and never realized that their former singer and frontman, a certain Derek Dick aka FISH, had built a solid and massive solo career until recently and even concerned about this issue, it didn't make me wish to write the folks at home. Things started to change when a great friend of mine, my dear compadre gifted me with FISH's 2007 release titled "Thirteenth Star" - it really impressed me hugely.

Apart from a couple of easy-to-pick tracks, this album contains dark and somber material that requires a lapse of time to get into but once you get, you go truly amused. Labeled as a neo-prog artist FISH, in reality, presents a work much more in the eclectic vein than anyone might suppose and the staring moments runs in a crescendo as the tracks pass by your mind and ears. The Gabriel-esque vocals are still there but now creature levels with the creator and the results are amazing. Support musicians do a great job, contributing immensely for the grabbing atmosphere and the general production is high, including the astonishing and well-crafted cover art work; also, according to my English-speaker friends, lyrics make sense.

'Circle line', the opener and the poignant 'Zöe 25' compose the catchier part of the album, together with the lovely 'Miles de besos'. On the other side the trilogy formed by the sequence 'Manchmal', 'Openwater' and 'Dark star' provides the best moments here - the Genesis-like environment is indelible. Other songs are merely average but the last track, '13th star', leaves a fine and tasteful good-bye to the album.

This release made me wish to check all previous FISH output and also to look more closely for his vintage work with Marillion; thence even not reaching the masterliness realm I rate "Thirteenth Star" as an excellent addition to any prog collection.

Report this review (#159534)
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars If you take most of the songs from this album separately, they are quite pleasant, melodic for some but also harder (even heavy) at times. But since I use to listen to albums in their entirety, I do confess that I feel bored with these heavy sounds which are too invading. But Fish is not the only one who has embraced this style. Maybe an overall tendency of the modern world?

Circle Line and Square Go correspond to this pattern and are just average songs. Powerful but not very attractive. As it was the case with his previous effort, I prefer the more intimate songs like Miles De Besos. An enjoyable ballad, full of emotion and tenderness as Zoe 25. A bit too sad maybe. At the opposite of the two opening numbers.

I think that some auto-biographical work already started in his previous album (more precisely in Scattering Crows) and this is only a continuation I guess. The big man was obviously disturbed by the end of his relation with Heather in May 2007 a few weeks before their wedding. But who wouldn't?

To keep the balance, some more heavy (metal) notes for Manchmal. Lots of noisy guitar parts, it is not very appealing to me. But it was maybe the way that the big man decided to express his feelings at the time.And "Open Water" is perpetuating the same canvas. At this time of the album one might have the feeling to press quit.but it would be a mistake since some excellent songs are still to come.

Dark Star features a slow and heavy style. It is indeed rather oppressive and dark which brilliantly evolves crescendo into a great guitar break (finally!).

My favorite song is the quiet and emotional Where In The World. Such a personal song, I quote: We had our stage, the scene was set, the passion play, our roles were written, we had our destiny, our lives were meant to be, We were going home, we were going home.

The promises, the tender touch, we made our love and kissed with open eyes, You took me by surprise; you hurt me deep inside, how could you then decide, That you're going home. You're going home.

The melancholic mood remains for the closing number (which opens with these symptomatic words: with a heart full of sky. Nothing less than the title of a Mostly Autumn album.(hi Heather).

"Thirteenth Star" is a good album; a balance between heavy rock and fine ballads. Three stars.

Report this review (#169538)
Posted Friday, May 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars The last 2 cd`s I was very very disappointed. As a really big big Fish fan I got the cd and thought maybe it is a bit better. The first time I heard the cd I was disappointed again. I listened every time I drove to my work. And I muss say every time I liked it more. Very good arangements a good sound . First time good Guitar work. Wow I was and Iam surprised. I´d like the agressive songs but this time I like allso the ballads And Foss did a good job. I didn´t like him with Camel and I didn´t like him for a couple af years during the Fish concerts. Fish did a great job with Steve Vantsis . Maybe they found each other and we get some great new Fish cd. Maybe with a great guitar player........Ok Frank did a great job but I think I could be a littel bit better. My Favourite Manchmal and 13 stars....Zöe 25. I saw the big scottisch man in Köln. And also there he was in best form. So here he is once more...

Report this review (#169588)
Posted Friday, May 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I, like most fans, sort of reluctantly fell off the Fish bandwagon, even though I was and still am, befuddled by the memory of the "Sunsets on Empire" recording and tour (what a show that was!). I admire the man immensely, putting up with so much cow dung from seemingly every direction (managers, record companies), all trying to screw him over. His personal relationships have known some ups and downs (no, I am not a gossiper but creativity and inspiration seems easier when in the bluesy doldrums, I guess good guys are prime targets for the sharks! He is a Fish after all! After Raingod with Zippos, to which I didn't really give a decent return visit, I just felt that the thrill had gone! The 2 following studio albums have not elicited my hunting interest either. Bizarre? Not really, it seemed that Fish was becoming the subject matter of the famous Traffic tune "Sometimes I feel so Uninspired", unsure whether to return to being a balladeer, a rocker or an actor. This indecision, knowing that he would excel at all three, is what ultimately is so frustrating. I purchased this album having read ,where else but ON THIS SITE, that his wedding to the ravishing Heather Findlay of Mostly Autumn fame was deep sixed a few weeks before the climb to the altar. Talk about being inspired, the rage and the sadness through all those tears must have been unreal. In my mind, most recordings are the musical expression of the artist's real life feelings, so there is definite correlation there. Lyrically, he has always been at the forefront of contemporary rock, a quick witted researcher of the human condition with a pen that could unleash poison and/or panacea.

The entire record is a trembling bucket dripping of blood, sweat, tears from lost love; a diary of pain and frustration at was once vibrant and magical, now gone. "Thirteenth Star" features new writing partner Steve Vantsis (he held the bass at the show I saw), whose wobbly licks kick off "Circle Line" and has our wild Scotsman in fine vocal form, a dreamy atmospheric piece that has a brooding menace ("I try to kid myself that I am still alive"), as well as some fine soaring guitar from Frank Usher. "Square Go" rocks harder, Vantsis again doing his best Mick Karn bass imitation, with both guitarists (the other being Chris Johnson) laying down colossal riffs, string synths from the much-maligned Foss Patterson and some more introspective lyrics from Mr. Dick. Graceful piano introduces "Miles de Besos" (Thousands of kisses), a tremendous blues-jazz platform for Fish to muse supremely, as only he can, about the grooviest track he has ever recorded and a big wedge of surprise, here. The song ends with these words and you can guess who they are for! "Did you think that it meant nothing to me that when you disappeared I could walk away? Did you know that you broke my heart and left a scar that will never fade away." Pretty direct no nonsense words, no? I am stunned, a lump in my throat. "Zoe 25" continues on the melancholic train, a bleak reflection on life's injustices and how we spend our entire lives chasing illusions.

The grandiose "Arc of the Curve" veers into a tentative hopeful remembrance, ultimately swerving back into memories of what was and could have been. "I could never contemplate that you would ever walk away". I have not witnessed such musical heart break since Jerry Hall left Bryan Ferry (the Roxy romantic wrote a boat load of primo material for decades, ending with Kiss & Tell). "Manchmal" seduces the rage back into the fold, where anger and bitterness weave the rhythmic spiral, a sometimes brutal steamroller (that should be a blast live), full of impending and intuitive doom, as if Fish knew that the crap will eventually hit the fan. It did. I can relate Derek, as I had a 32 year relationship that was eternally on the edge. "Dark Star" is a highly atmospheric number, a simple rhythm, swirling faraway synthesized winds that explodes into a guitar-led chorus, Fish looking now for escape, away from the blistering dullness of the pain, "I want to be a meteor". A fascinating track full of musical substance. "Where in the World" is so sadly sung, trembling it seems, it is almost unbearable in describing the thrill of impending wedlock (we were going home) , the bewildering lyrics poignant beyond belief , a cry from the shards of a shattered heart, prog will never be as personal as this. "Where in the world do I go from here?" Just must move on and survive, that's all you can do mate. The title track puts the spleen to rest, a gentle lullaby, an ode to the spirit of survival, the tenacity of healing and the will to fight on, hoping for another better day.

Life is no piece of cake, some of us know. The affairs of the heart are what make some of us human after all. "Toujours l'amour. L'amour toujours". I will follow the thirteenth Star. Such sincerity is to be applauded. Incredibly moving,

4.5 tear shaped STARS.

Report this review (#172858)
Posted Monday, June 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Heartbreaking, but so rewarding.

Fish's latest (and perhaps final) solo album has been called his best offering to date, and it may very well be. Since his departure with Marillion The singer has boasted a wide discography neo-prog albums that have sparatically done well or flopped, but this one is sure to please just about any prog fan. Like many neo-prog albums these days the album is dark and brooding, clearly over love lost since just about every song on the album deals with a break up in some way or another, but the lyrics and music are done so well that is doesn't come off as ''feeling sorry for one's self,'' but rather just very good and dark prog. As far as style goes, it's hard to compare this effort to anything done with Marillion other than Fish's voice itself - the music is darker, shadier and generally less welcoming, but it is very much something that the general population would label as 'prog rock' with each song being fairly lengthy and imploring the use of off kilter time signatures that makes every song rather 'mid-paced', but gives it an incredible amount of longevity with the listener.

One of the best parts about this album is just how even it is. None of the songs stand out against one another, they're all very even, and this means that there's no weak points on the album. The fact that there's no overwhelming high points on the album also means that there's never ''just that one song'' that you're always waiting for, or will skip ahead to - making this a very solid offering. From the opening tune, Circle Line you're bombarded with a plethora of eastern influences, hard riffs and almost trip-hop moments that blend together along with Fish's emotional voice and it all works so well. Songs such as Zoe 25 and Miles De Besos work mostly off the lyrics to tell a sad tale backed by a full and richly melodic soundscape. Other songs are a little bit more on the upbeat side such as the heavy Manchmal or the almost be-boppy Openwater, but it all flows so well that none of the songs seem out of place at any given time.

It's a little bit difficult to go into detail about every single song because while they're all very different they seem to follow a theme which keeps them in line with one another. All that can be said is that by the end of the strangely heart-string plucking title track, 13th Star you'll be feeling rather uplifted from the whole experience - even if the album is rather dreary on the whole. Perhaps it's just the simply wonderful instrumentation throughout the disc that makes it just so pleasing to the ear amongst the dark themes, but something works, whatever it is.

This is a very strong album which is sure to please any prog fan who likes traditional prog rock put into a concise form with sharp moments abound - even if it is a little darker than some other albums out there. 4 stars out of 5 for an emotional rollercoaster of an album put to some of the best music to come out of the neo-scene in quite some time. While it would be unfortunate if Fish never make another album again, this would definitely be a high not to go out on. High recommended.

Report this review (#199064)
Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I thoroughly agree with a previous reviewer that this is a grown up version of Misplaced Childhood. It is easily the Big Man's finest solo work and combines all sorts of celtic, jazz, prog, and classic elements.

The key to the whole work, though, is the fact that it was written as a result of emotional upheaval, his split from Heather Findlay, in much the same way as his great first solo LP was born from his leaving Marillion. Perhaps Fish should only write LPs at such times as this!!

The tracks are even better performed live, but his emotive discussion of a failed relationship on Arc of the Curve is simply classic Fish. He feels and means every single word. Manchmal has everything, includinf a stunning guitar solo. Dark Star speaks atmosphere, and, indeed, many of the tracks have a mellow and meloncholic feel to them.

Square Go has a deep thundering bass and guitar opening before closing with a melodic keyboard backing to as mournful statement of loneliness. Zoe 25 contains a lovely mix of vocals with piano and guitar backdrop. It is emotive and real.

Where in the World is a nice prog ballad with wistful vocals combined with again beautiful keyboard and guitar work.

13th Star, the album closer, starts off gently before coming to life with powerful music and vocals before calming down again with wistful meaning. You feel the man's pain.

This is a great LP and is thoroughly recommended to all who enjoy their music to mean something.

Report this review (#199549)
Posted Saturday, January 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I just read lazland's review of Thirteenth Star, and it convinced me that not only did I need to write a review of Fish's Thirteenth Star, but also that I should go against the common wisdom of the community and award it 5 stars.

Let me explain. lazland was mentioning all of his favorite tracks from this album and I was reading along and saying amen to every thing he had to say.

Then I realized that he hadn't mentioned any of the songs that I consider to be the high points of this album.

Ever had an album that took you ages to listen to because you kept going back to certain tracks over and over again? Well, Thirteenth Star is one of those rare albums for me. It literally took me a couple months to hear it all the way through, because I never made it past Zoe 25. By the time I got that far I would either go back to the beginning or start over again at Miles de Besos. Of course I eventually made it to the second half of the album and loved it just as much as the first.

Now THAT to me says that an album is truly a masterpiece. Not many CD's capture me that way from the get go. The only two that I can think of offhand are Steve Hackett's Spectral Mornings and Echolyn's Suffocating the Bloom. And I'll stack Fish's latest work up against those two great CD's any day.

As for the music, it is classic Fish but edgier. Fish is more relevant to the progressive scene today than he has been ever since his time with Marillion. The lyrics too (and Fish is a great lyricist even when he's off his game) are some of his best.

5 stars. One day we will all acknowledge this to be Fish's greatest contribution to prog (well, except maybe for his performance on Script.)

Report this review (#199555)
Posted Saturday, January 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I had given up on Fish a while ago until I went to one of his shows last year. He notably played Arc of the Curve and it quickly got into me just enough to have me say "ok, let's give the great man another try". Well, I never thought I'd love a new Fish album this much. Thirtheenth Star is a complete success from start to finish. Just stunning.

This is a very melodic, crossover prog album; thus those looking for something more technical or heavy could be disappointed. I personnally have a crush for melodic stuff when it's well done, so this one was made for me. It is also a very consistent, steady album, rather than a roller coaster with many highs and lows. The sound is ambient-oriented, quite atmospheric, with some edgy guitars here and there, and some more energetic segments, such as the first part of Manchmal. It also draws from a variety of genres such as celtic, folk or jazz, but not too much so as to avoid thinning down the album's very original spirit.

For me, it also took quite some time to grow, to the point I almost shelved it and thought it was another disappointment. Strangely, this one started to grow while I was listening to it while I was distracted at doing something else. At some point, it just grabbed me, I realized I was listening to something that I very much liked, and I cannot get tired of it now. Even my girlfriend, who is a classical musician but who is not usually much fond of prog, loves it !

Steve Vantsis appears as a genius here. Thirteenth Star is a joyfest of superb guitars and songwriting. It also features one of Fish's best vocal performances (now with a very mature, balanced and poised voice) as well as great backing vocals by Lorna Bannon, and comes with a pretty booklet and CD design.

Except perhaps for the grandiose finish, I cannot point at my favourite moments; I love the whole thing. Easy 4 stars, just short of being what I consider a "masterpiece". But just how much I appreciate this album would probably have many people award 5 stars.

Thirteenth Star is not to be missed and is a more than excellent addition to just about any collection.

Report this review (#235647)
Posted Saturday, August 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars "Sunsets On Empire" was the only Fish album that impressed me enough to give 4 stars to until hearing "13th Star" his latest. On "Sunsets On Empire" Fish was fortunate to have Steven Wilson at his disposal and he pulled off his best album up to that point. Well here we are 10 years later and Fish has created the album of his life. I've read many times that for artistic people to go to the next level whether it's in writing a book or painting a picture they need to go through something tragic in their lives. That intense sorrow, deep emotion and "at the end of the rope" experience draws out inspiration like nothing else. I remember reading on the DPRP site that Fish was marrying MOSTLY AUTUMN's Heather Findlay and thought "Wow ! That should cause some waves in the Prog community". Then some weeks before the blessed event Heather pulled out much to Fish's surprise. He was obviously heart-broken and in the liner notes he thanks certain people who held him up and helped him to carry on through this storm. This album is the result of that experience, no doubt about it.The lyrics are clear about this and the emotion can be felt. The result is the crowning album of his solo career.

The first two tracks on this album absolutely smoke. The sound quality by the way is fantastic. "Circle Line" has an almost electronica vibe to it and when the guitar comes in you know it. Vocals follow. What an opener ! The guitar is crying out late. "Square Go" opens with more of that electronica which reminds me of CHROMA KEY and OSI. Reserved vocals before a minute.The guitar comes and goes wreaking havok. Love the background synths too. So good. Spoken words after 3 1/2 minutes. "Miles De Bosos" is the first clue that this is about his failed relationship. Piano and reserved vocals. It does get a little fuller after a minute. They step it up another notch 3 minutes in.

"Zoe 25" opens with gentle guitar and reserved vocals as piano joins in. It's so uplifting after 4 minutes. "Arc Of The Curve" features picked guitar and piano as these laid back vocals join in. It picks up after a minute.The emotion is high here. "Manchmal" kicks in with some heaviness before a minute. Nice. Passionate vocals here too. "Open Water" opens with guitar as spoken vocals join in. It kicks in before a minute. This is catchy and heavy. Nasty guitar 4 1/2 minutes in. "Dark Star" has this mid paced beat with almost spoken vocals. It's fuller on the chorus as contrasts continue. It's quite heavy before 5 minutes. "Where In The World" is a touching ballad. "Thirteenth Star" is also laid back and moving although it does kick in before 3 minutes.

I highly recommend this recording, it has emotion and great lyrics along with some intense rocking moments. It's a rollercoaster and i'm ready to go again.

Report this review (#314559)
Posted Thursday, November 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Expectations exceeded!

I had purchased 13th Star with generally low expectations however from the opening track "Circle Line" to the closing "13th Star" this is an exceptional recording that exceeds all expectations.

The tracks have been composed by Fish along with bassist Steve Vantsis. The writing is very strong with excellent instrumental passages and with a generally heavier feel. As we would expect many of the songs are deeply personal but this does not distract at all. There are no weak songs.

This is an excellent return by fish to neo-prog. I would hesitate to call it a masterpiece (5 stars) but it is certainly 4 star material and I would consider it as essential in any prog collection.

4.4 stars. Very highly recommended. Go and get a copy.

Report this review (#362473)
Posted Friday, December 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Lucky Asteroidea...

'13th Star' is the ninth studio album released by Fish as a solo artist, and the thirteenth of his career in total. Despite enjoying all of the early works of Marillion, (more so than the Rothery era) this was my first taste of what Fish did next. His vocals have always been likened to Peter Gabriel, but this also extends to the music on this album. It's comparable to 'So', great tracks, with a mixture of pop and alternative influences. Easy to listen to, but just enough nuances to separate it from just any generic rock album.

I've always found Fish's lyrics to be outstanding, and whilst I wouldn't go as far as to claim '13th Star' as an exception, they are certainly not quite as poetic or interesting as his Marillion material. The central theme revolves around missed opportunities and heartbreak, with several references to his failed engagement with ex-Mostly Autumn singer, Heather Findlay.

The Verdict: A strong release from the bath loving front-man, but not sure if there is enough here to entice me into exploring his other solo albums. We shall see.

Report this review (#579205)
Posted Thursday, December 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Fish latest studio album to dat from 2007 named 13th star is another dull and forgetable album to my ears. This is even worse then Sunsets, with mid tempo almost all the time, sounds to modern to me and in some places I swear I'm listning to some alternative/rock album , not progressive rock. The album is easy to listen, and I can't find that special passages that everyone praiseing here, really. Is almost a generic album, a rock album yes but progressive and even neo how is labeled here, no way. Again I had hard times listning to this record from start to finish, but after some spins I had enough for the next 100 years. Instrumental passages, almost none, are not necesarly bad, but totaly uninspired and to modern for my taste, rock and that's all. Sorry to disappoint the fans of this great musician, but his solo album are hard to digest, at least for me, and I can't understand what is so excellent about the music that this album is considered one of his best. 2 stars
Report this review (#628952)
Posted Thursday, February 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Fish's run of studio albums since Sunsets on Empire continue to show a high level of consistency, though I confess that on this one that selfsame consistency starts to get repetitive. 13th Star essentially finds his songwriting following the general principles he's followed from that point, right down to basing several songs around the dramatic repetition of the title to a slightly irritating extent (Square Go and *especially* Manchmal are chronic for this).

The familiar refrain of "Where do I go from here?" from Clutching at Straws raises its head again - which must have made for some electrifying concerts back when the album came out, since it was premiered on the Clutching at Stars tour which mixed together songs from the two albums - and the parallels drawn do make sense, since once again we find Fish in a self-critical mood. Whereas Clutching saw him tackling the difficulties of his relationship with alcohol, 13th Star analyses his romantic history, which has never been particularly stable, and finds him pondering how things just never seem to work out for him in that regard. It's fairly raw subject matter, in other words, though Fish once again does a great job of crafting a listenable and entertaining album around it, though I find that if you already have his solo albums that came out between this and Sunsets this doesn't really add anything truly unexpected to the canon.

Report this review (#727481)
Posted Saturday, April 14, 2012 | Review Permalink

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